- Organizations today have started to realize that educating their workforce about cultural diversity is a must.
- Although some may think that diversity does nothing but create problems and challenges, it also offers remarkable benefits.
- Managers should learn about different cultures or at least the cultures of their employees to help the organization prosper.
Demands for equal opportunities, the pressure to globalize, increased migration, and advances in technology have all been brought together to create the inescapable reality of a multicultural workforce.
As organizations expand their activities globally, the number of institutions that claim jurisdictions over their activities has increased. This means that their corporate environment has also become increasingly multifaceted and diverse.
MNCs and TNCs face global competitors, multiple countries and governments, different cultures, and languages. All of these are placing a more heightened demand for coordination and control of their business activities.
Multicultural Diversity in the Workplace
A multicultural environment in the workplace occurs when organizations start to hire employees from diverse backgrounds, regardless of their race, religion, or culture.
Although some may think that diversity does nothing but create problems and challenges, it also offers remarkable benefits. 6Q, an Australian employee engagement survey company, listed several benefits of multicultural diversity in the workplace:
A diverse workplace combines employees from different socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicity, and experiences. As these diverse employees work together, they breed a more productive work environment. A multicultural environment brings diverse talents together, all of them working towards a common goal by utilizing different sets of unique skills.
Organizations can benefit from a diverse workforce by learning from their unique experiences and transferring their collective expertise to their work. Employees from different sets of backgrounds can learn from their colleague’s experiences from a different perspective. Overall, they can help usher fresh ideas for the company by thinking out their comfort zone.
A multicultural workforce increases creativity among teams by making them offer a more diverse set of solutions to specific problems. When a diverse group of employees huddles together, they can come up with more solutions to help the organization prosper.
Each individual from different backgrounds can offer a new way of thinking and making decisions for the company. Companies that support multicultural diversity in the workplace inspire their employees to perform to the best of their ability.
Increase in profits
Several studies have shown that multicultural diversity in the workplace can foster higher profits for the organization. A survey by think tank Center for Talent Innovation showed that 48% of companies in the United States with a more diverse senior management had improved their market share for the previous year.
Consequently, the study also showed that only 33% of companies with less diverse management reported an increase in growth. Due to globalization and language diversity around the globe, companies with a more diverse workforce are bound to increase sales and improve profits.
Improve employee engagement
A diverse pool of employees can learn more about each other’s lifestyle and culture. They can build a good relationship among their colleagues by sharing their unique personal experiences with each other. Learning about their colleague’s personal anecdotes can increase employee engagement in the company.
Attract a larger pool of candidates
A company that encourages multicultural diversity can immediately entice a wider pool of candidates for their job vacancies. Top-notch candidates with experience in diversity tend to navigate towards progressive companies with a diverse workforce.
Companies with a larger pool of candidates tend to have better choices for their vacancies. In today’s competitive talent-driven market, it is vital for companies to attract a diverse set of potential employees.
Improve employer brand
Another benefit of a multicultural workforce is the positive perception that the company would receive in the industry. Companies that recruit individuals from diverse backgrounds have the potential to improve their employer brand by gaining a reputation of being an excellent employer to a diverse workforce.
Additionally, a diverse workforce also allows companies to be more globally competitive. Due to their diverse work environment, they would be able to understand their global clients better, some on even a more personal level.
Encourage a wider range of skills
Companies that hire employees from all backgrounds bring their own diverse set of skills. With a broader range of skills and knowledge made more available, organizations can offer a more diverse range of products and services to a specific target market. Multicultural diversity also means diversity in skills. These skills can be translated to produce more diverse products and service offerings.
Improve cultural insights
By employing a multicultural workforce, members in the organization can spend more time with people from a different cultural background that they have not been exposed to before. Thus, employees can learn new cultural insights from each other, making them more tolerant and accepting of other people’s ethnicity and religion.
Managing Diversity in the Workplace
Organizations today have started to realize that educating their workforce about cultural diversity is a must. Mentoring and coaching are needed to deliver positive and productive outcomes to diversity issues.
Supervisors, managers, directors, and organizational leaders need to educate themselves comprehensively so they can be proper role models for their personnel. Managers should learn about different cultures or at least the cultures of their employees.
A Harvard Business Review article noted several ways on how managers can contribute to promoting multicultural diversity in the workplace:
TIP 1: Focus recruiting efforts to bring diverse, multicultural candidates in the workplace.
Organizations need to adjust their employee branding messages, diversify recruiting talent sources, and even adjust their selection criteria to champion multicultural experience and leadership capability. Some companies even go as far as hiring cultural anthropologists to support a more targeted exploration of a specific culture.
TIP 2: Make the multicultural experience a part of career path conversations and performance reviews.
An organization that champions multicultural diversity needs to be able to integrate this directive to organizational processes. By making multicultural experience part of an employee’s performance reviews, both the managers and their employees will start to take multicultural skills development more seriously.
TIP 3: Build multicultural elements into management programs.
Encouraging a multicultural workforce also needs to be a top management directive. This can be done by developing new training programs to help managers handle a culturally diverse workforce. Companies can also adjust their existing management programs to include cultural sensitivity training for their young managers.
TIP 4: Launch mobility programs that bring managers to different cultures and geographies.
On-the-job experience can bring rising managers to different cultures and geographies. Companies can do that for both their short-term projects and medium-term rotations. This will ensure that multicultural leadership development is fostered in the organization’s talent management processes.
TIP 5: Integrate multicultural insights into business decisions and strategy.
Organizations must clearly “walk the talk” when it comes to encouraging multicultural diversity. Managers need to actively harness the insights that they have learned to nurture a multiculturally diverse workforce in the organization.
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Bachmann, A. S. (2006). Melting pot or tossed salad? Implications for designing effective multicultural workgroups. Management International Review, 46(6), 721–748.doi:10.1007/s11575-006-0124-4
Clarke, L. (2015). 8 Amazing Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace. The 6Q Blog. Retrieved 21 August 2019, from https://inside.6q.io/benefits-of-cultural-diversity-in-the-workplace/
LAURING, J., & SELMER, J. (2011). Multicultural Organizations: Does a Positive Diversity Climate Promote Performance? European Management Review, 8(2), 81–93. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-4762.2011.01011.x
Multicultural Leadership Starts from Within. (2012). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 21 August 2019, from https://hbr.org/2012/01/multicultural-leadership-starts-fr